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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Age of Epics Campaign- Part I Brainstorming and Kit-bashing

prince-valiant_large

Today I participated in a discussion on RPGNet regarding the Prince Valiant Story telling game from Chaosium. We all agreed that the system is a wonderful mix of a rules light / setting rich RPG that was really way ahead of its time.

It got me thinking of a "back burner project" I've had for quite some time. I've been toying with a Medieval Age setting for awhile where I could mix Western European tales such as those of Camelot, and Eastern tales of the Orient such as those found in the Arabian Nights.

Now that we’ve released the BoL Edition of Legends of Steel it seems like a great time to work on this a bit more.

I want it heroic in tone and light in magic and I want it set in mythical/quasi Historical Earth.

For my resources I've decided to go with the LoS/BoL rules set. As source book material I'm using:

  • The Prince Valiant Story telling game – Chaosium
  • Charlemagne's Paladins – TSR
  • GURPS Arabian Nights - Steve Jackson Games
  • The Adventures of Sindbad - HEX Games

I know there are many more source books and systems I could use but I want to get started on this rather than spend time fumbling around gathering stuff. I also want to stress a heroic upbeat tone rather than a dark and brooding one. And these were the best choices for that which were at hand.

val02

From the material I gathered I want to kit-bash a world in the same vein as the Prince Valiant comics. I also want it to expand and share it's universe with other legendary heroes near or about that period.

On my "Age of Epics" Earth Prince Valiant, Morgan Le Fay, and King Arthur will share the world with Sindbad, Ali Baba, Maugris, and Roland.

Prince_Valiant01

The main rules tweak I will have is that the use of magic is entirely the realm of the GM. There will be no magic using player characters. That isn't to say that players cannot play Priests or Mages, they can- it's just that they wont be allowed access to spells. The Mages will be more like Alchemists and Sages with a bit of sleight of hand thrown in.

Holy men, be they Mullahs, Monks, or Priest of Odin, will rely on their faith rather than their deity handing out "Cure light wound" spells every day.

There will still be magic wielding adversaries, Magical creatures, enchanted items, and more.

More to come…

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An overview of QAGS (finally)


Quite a few weeks ago I purchased QAGS 2nd edition from RPGNow. I had started to give it an overview on twitter but then I had a couple of surgeries on my back and the whole project sort of lagged. My apologies to the folks at HEX games for my flakiness but I really have been working at about 30% since the operations.
But enough of my pathetic whining- on to QAGS!


The 2nd edition of the Quick Ass Gaming System (QAGS) by Hex Games is available at RPGNow. It’s a rules light beginner friendly system that weighs in at 98 pages and will cost you $7.99 for the PDF download.

First off, a word of warning – QAGS pulls no punches and handles some material in a very Adult manner. The rules read at PG-13. Although the system is an ideal one for children, I highly suggest that the rules information be disseminated by a responsible adult. We are not talking porn here folks but there are a few off color remarks and enough adult language that parents should be advised.

Okay, enough of that.

Right off the top, QAGS takes the unusual step of really preparing potential players by going over the fundamentals of roleplaying and the importance of character concept and archetypes before even touching the mechanics of character creation (kudos!).

I just wish they organized their presentation better. They have so much to say and all of it is good- it’s just that they present it in such an annoying way. You try to read the main text, and suddenly there is a big ass box text on the next page talking about something totally different.

It’s like all the folks at Hex games are surrounding you as you read it saying “Oo, Oo, look at this, look at this.” “No, no look at this, at this.” “Hey, hey over here, over here, look at this!”- Frankly, it was damned annoying. The good thing is that what they had to say was interesting, otherwise I would have closed the PDF right there (and don’t even get me started on the three column text).

I’m not sure if chapter 2 was any better or I just learned how to mind shield myself from the sidebars that aren’t sidebars. But it seemed to go much smoother for me. Basically it’s all about task resolution. It’s a rather nifty system with degrees of success worked in.

The Damage system in chapter 3 is very cool. It’s quick and easy to grasp and I would think makes combat in QAGS move at a very brisk pace. The mechanics are very basic and friendly. An additional touch that helps is that each chapter has a little example of play tacked on at the end.

Chapter 4 is where they explain their systems use of Hero points, Bennies, Action points etc. In QAGS they are called Yum-Yum’s and are basically pieces of candy- M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, raisins-whatever you want. I’ll give the folks at Hex points for originality. They definitely know their audience.

Chapter 5 goes into the fine art of roleplaying. Something that all of us experienced hands SHOULD know by now. But it never hurts to be reminded. As in the chapters before there is plenty of good advice dispensed here and worth reading, even for RPG veterans.

Chapter 6-8 turn the tables to help the GM with the thankless job of running the game. One of the many wonderful quotes I took away was:

“The first thing to realize when preparing a con game is that there’s a good chance you’re not going to know most of the players. More importantly, at least 25% of con-goers are card-carrying, USDA-approved morons.
Understand going in that the odds of you having a good time are not good.”


Tell it like it is brothers!

Chapters 6-8 are fluff, but they are important and entertaining fluff. Here again stuff that most of the experienced hands should know but at times forget (campaigns, plots, themes, mood, tone, PC Death, difficult players). QAGS takes the time to go over much of it and do so in an entertaining manner.

Appendices follow with a plethora (yes, I know what a plethora is) of charts, tables, setting overviews, character write ups, equipment lists, and even an outline of Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey. This is a ton of stuff, most of it useful, all of it amusing.

At the end I have to say it was a fun read. It could have gone smoother at the beginning. But by the time I was done I was eager to play. I’m going to try it out on my minions (heavily edited for content of course).

Good read?
Yes.

Easy read?
No.

Good system?
Yes.

Good value?
Yes.

Would you play it?
Yes.

As an overview, on a scale of 1-10 the Evil DM gives it an 8.

Go buy it!

Friday, September 25, 2009

I knew Montreal was cold, but I never knew it was so cool!

I got this from Forces of Geek. He's right,It just makes you feel good. And i heard they did this in one take!

Oh, to be young and goofy. As opposed to just being old and goofy.



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ruins of Hyboria- a great reference work with a lousy cover.



Like many of you, I’m one of those who actually read The Lord of the Rings decades before the movie came out. I would get the books out every couple of years and reread them as I did so I would wonder what this locale would look like or how to stat out that character. When Lord of the Rings came out I was an instant fan, sure they left out a couple of favorite characters and missed a few beats here and there, but for all of that I finally got a glimpse of Middle Earth beyond the Brothers Hildebrandt calendars. For me LoTR was a feast for the eyes. And such is the case with Ruins of Hyboria.

From Conan to Thundarr, Ruins are a staple of Sword and Sorcery fiction. In Ruins of Hyboria we are not only provided with a system to help create and flesh out ruins of our own creation. But we are also treated to full descriptions of some of the more famous ruins in the Conan saga.

Ruins of Hyboria starts with a unique system for generating ruins, I say unique because in goes much further than just laying out the size, location and denizens of the ruins. The generator takes into account many of the social aspects of the ruin back when it was a new and vibrant location. What was the nature of the ruin, who were the builders, how did it meet its fate and so on. If one wants they can get as detailed as what types of clothing and musical instruments would be found in the ruins treasure chambers. The particulars are up to the GM, but just the fact that such questions are presented for consideration is appealing.

The next section gives an overview of various Hyborian nations and the different types of ruins most likely found within those nations. The book links the ruins not only with the current population (legends and rumors about the ruins) but also with the motivations of the builders of the ruins. Each description is just two or three paragraphs in length but it conveys enough information for the GM to choose and begin fleshing out a ruin for his own use. Personally I would have liked to have seen this section expanded. Most of the ruins are of cities, I would have liked to have seen more temples, border forts, villas, and villages. One such locale was the Castle of Count Valbroso, who met his end in the Conan story The Hour of the Dragon; I thought its addition was a nice touch.

Ruins of Hyboria then goes into detailed descriptions of ruins from some of the most popular Conan stories such as Queen of the Black coast, Red Nails, The Devil in Iron, and many more. Histories, legends, layouts, maps, and denizens of these ruins are provided. I really enjoyed reading these interpretations of locales from some of my favorite stories.

The final section is a sort of GM’s toolkit of advice and tips for running an adventure in a ruin setting. From cave-ins to spiked man traps, there are more hazards than just the ravening packs of ghouls to contend with. A bestiary of creatures, a handful of new Feats round out this section and bring the book to a close.

As with almost all the books in the Conan Line from Mongoose, Ruins of Hyboria is an excellent sourcebook even if you don’t use the D20 rules engine. The only fault I can find in this book is my own dislike of the cover art. The picture on the cover looks like Conan is In the middle of a jailbreak, rather than entering a ruined temple. I know, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But I do all the time, I’m just glad I was able to get past the cover of Ruins of Hyboria and into the treasure trove of gaming goodness inside.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Legends of Steel Play by Post Game



Over at the Evil DM Productions Forum I opened a section for a Play by Post game I'll be running soon called the Jackal's Lair.

I have four openings if anyone is interested (Simon's spot is reserved should he wish to play).

I've done this sort of thing before (though it's been a while) with varying degrees of success. the best recipe so far is:

Small number of mature players.
Egos checked at the door.
Make sure that the GM and players can commit a reasonable amount of time to the game (at least 2 posts a week).
A quick and easy system.
A short adventure.

So if any of you are interested please stop by at the Legends of Steel Barbarians of Lemuria section of the Forums.
Jeff

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A couple of nice finds out on the net





Diversions of the Groovy Kind is a fun comic blog specializing in 70's era comics (my own personal "Golden age" of Comics).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Legends of Steel - BoL Edition is out!


The Legends of Steel -Barbarians of Lemuria edition is available at The Evil DM Productions Website. PDF Download for only $15.00

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Barbarians of the Aftermath – An overview



I haven’t had the opportunity to play the game but here are my observations after a thorough read through-

Right off the top I’ll admit that the Post –Apocalyptic genre isn’t one of my favorites to play in. I do however enjoy the fiction of the genre. Lucifer’s Hammer is one of my all time favorite books that I re-read every few years and I used to gobble up books from the Horseclans series just as fast as Robert Adams wrote them. So I am a fan of the genre. And now with the release of Barbarians of the Aftermath, I can honestly say that playing a survivor coming out of a bunker with a sawed off shotgun in one hand and a Geiger counter in the other, finally has appeal.

With Barbarians of the Aftermath (BotA), Nathaniel Torson has successfully taken the core rules from Simon Washbourne’s Barbarians of Lemuria (BoL) Role playing game and turned them upside down taking us from the Sword & Sorcery genre to The Post Apocalyptic.

Weighing in at 172 pages, BotA has added a lot of fluff and crunch to the sleek and simple BoL engine. But Torson has managed to do so in a modular style that is very friendly to GM’s and players who like to get under the hood of a game and make it their own. He starts off with a confidence inspiring treatment of the genre and the possible futures that destroyed the game worlds. Torson shows a solid knowledge and enjoyment of the genre. BotA doesn’t just give you one reason for the fall, it goes over several and allows you to pick and choose, and the options are all laid out there for you to pick your particular poison.

One thing I noticed is, if you are the type of gamer who loves charts and randomization, then you will have a nerdgasm reading these rules. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that there is so much information to be covered, so many options that charts just have to be the way to go. And that’s not to say that there are pages and pages of bare dry charts- not so at all. These rules grab you and reel you in. they are well written and presented in a very attractive layout. No space is wasted but none of the book looks overcrowded.

The next chapter covered the basics of character creation, this was a quick read for me since Post Apocalyptic-is all about the world rather than the characters. In Fantasy gaming the heroes attack the world, in BotA the world attacks the players. But still I dusted off all my favorite Post Apocalyptic archetypes to see if BotA could handle them –

Genetically created creatures from World enough, and time?
Check.

Jon Shannow “The Jerusalem man”?
Check.

Horseclansmen and the Cat clans from the Horseclans series?
Check.

Juggers from Blood of heroes ?
Check.

Princess Ariel from Thundarr the Barbarian? (This one would be a deal breaker)…
Check.

Well alright then. Let’s move on.
The next section states Tools not Rules. I like it already. We go into mutations, psi abilities, firearms rules, radiation, vehicles (with a special section on “downgrading vehicles and equipment-nice) , and more. Here is where we start to see that we have left the “quick, slick and elegant” which is the hallmark of the original BoL system. But it feels right. In order to embrace this whole new genre we need to crunch it up a bit. Just a bit though. It has to be that way if you want to introduce Psi abilities, Hovertanks, and Killbots. But here again is where Torson saves himself and us- he keeps the “modular feel” going all the way through. Personally I could care less for mutations- I really won’t be using them. If you ever play in The Evil DM’s BotA game at a Con, you will never encounter an 8’ green celery stalk with furry rabbit ears carrying an M16 – it just ain’t gonna happen. And so I have no problem completely ignoring that section.

Torson wraps things up with a section on the flora, fauna, aliens and other nastiness out there to do your character death. And a 15 page Gamemasters kit that gathers all the pertinent charts in one place.

As far as the editing or grammar issues- If there were any I didn’t see them. But if so, far be it from me to point them out.

There was one piece of art that I thought inappropriate, but I learned that it will be addressed in future release. Mistakes happen and kudos to Torson for addressing it quickly.

Bottom line:
Is it still BoL? Kind of, but more and I say that in a good way.

Does it make me want to play in a genre I previously never cared for? Yes. Yes it does.

Is it worth the price? Every penny.

You can pick up Barbarians of the Aftermath at RPGNow.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Evil DM Productions Message Boards



Did you know that we have a Message board?
Not many people do it seems.
Hell, I even forget sometimes.

Message boards are easy to start, but a helluva lot of work to keep going. And I must admit I haven't been as attentive to it as I should have.

The Evil DM Productions Forum is a good idea because not only do I have a section dedicated to all the gaming stuff I'm creating but I also have a large portion of it dedicated to genre topics that I enjoy.
Pulp fiction and gaming
Historical Fiction
Men's adventure fiction

I'll be posting more there and try to create some discussion. I'm also hoping that the upcoming release of the Legends of Steel-Barbarians of Lemuria Edition will invigorate the boards with more posts. I really think that the forums could be successful and entertaining, so I'm asking you guys here to stop by and have a look around. And of course any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The improbable adventures of Sherlock Holmes



Rob Rogers - a "Friend of the Lair" and the Author of "Devil's Cape" Has been included in an anthology of Sherlock Holmes tales. I'll be picking it up this week.
You should too. Get more information from the man himself at his Blog.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

LoS/BoL edition out 09/21/2009


Legends of Steel-Barbarians of Lemuria edition is coming out Sept 21st. It's a big boy too coming in at over 130 pages. I decided to not send out review copies this time around because (with only a few exceptions) people take the book but never deliver the review. It may be my own fault, I never asked for a review by date. if there is a next time maybe i'll add a "Please review by ----" Anyway, I'm sure people have good reasons and I don't want to feel like I'm nagging. So this time around I'm going to skip the review copy phase. I figure enough people know about both Legends of Steel and Barbarians of Lemuria separately that I can let word of mouth spread the news.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Africa guitar solo

This is one of my favorite songs from High School. This guy does an amazing job covering it.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Let's get caught up!



Thanks to all you guys who sent well wishes and support.

I took a ton of novels, gamebooks, movies and my netbook to the hospital because I figured I'd have some downtime as I recovered. I had no idea that the entire time in the hospital I was either going to be in tremendous pain or zonked off my ass. I didn't read a single book or watch a single movie.

The last couple of weeks have been a downright nightmare. One strong piece of advice - Morphine may dull the pain, but that bitch is evil and you would be well advised to avoid her claws as soon as possible. They gave me morphine for pain in the hospital, but as soon as could, I got off of it, and it still took several days of ugly fevered dreams to leave my system completely.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

time off

Hey folks,
I just wanted to let everyone know that my presence on the net here may be curtailed for a while.
AS some of you know I was the victim in a very serious auto accident in October of 2007. Since then I have tried a variety of conservative treatments; Physical Therapy, Aqua therapy, Epidural injections and lots of scans and x-rays. None of these treatments has relieved the pain for more than a few days and since October of 2007 the pain has been constant.
This has all culminated in my physicians recommending two surgical procedures. First, an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion L5-S1 followed by a Posterior fusion of L5-S1. I went in on Wednesday and had both procedures on the same day. I’ve been in the hospital until Saturday. I’m recovering at home now but needless to say the pain is downright hell. I’ll try and pop in from time to time but I need to concentrate on getting better.
Take care,
Jeff

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Grognard Challenge

Thaagwa Ulmus

 

Every gamer has certain illustrations that bring back great gaming memories.  Here is one of mine. His name is Thaagwa Ulmus. For some serious Grognard Cred, tell me where your adventurers would  encounter him?

Bonus points for a complete citing.